One of the largest investments we made in three years of planning Autumn Arch Beer Project was the brewhouse and fermentation vessels. There are a lot of brewing equipment manufacturers as we discovered while attending a craft beer expo two years ago, and this makes sense because the craft beer industry is booming (I had to go back and specify “craft” in that statement because beer as a whole has been relatively flat in recent years).
One company that stood out to us was Deutsche Beverage Technology. The company was only a few years old but had been making top notch brew houses at competitive prices. And they were willing to work with us to make a few custom improvements. In researching all the different brewhouses, Dan accumulated a few good ideas and insights, and he brought these to the table when we kicked off our project with Deutsche.
To do that, Dann and I took a trip down to Deutsche in Charlotte, NC. Since it was just Dan and myself, we were able to keep the trip expenses low with a couple rare finds on Airbnb. The first night, we slept in a really nice shed somewhere between Greensboro and Charlotte, and we were completely unaware of the chickens on premises until about 5am the next day. Those feathered fiends helped ensure we made it over to Deutsche in a timely fashion, but for future Airbnb stays, I may inquire about barnyard animals. The shed was otherwise delightful.
We spent the following day at Deutsche and had the opportunity to use their 10bbl, 4 vessel brewhouse to push around a few batches of warm water. We also talked through our brewing equipment design with the engineers. Dan took the lead on the P&ID reviews to make sure we were getting the best system for Autumn Arch Beer Project. The order was placed and our work was finished for the day.
Afterwards, we decided to descend upon the vibrant craft beer scene in Charlotte. We stopped by Wooden Robot Brewery and caught up with the head brewer and owner, Dan Wade. This is a great little brewery in downtown Charlotte. They had a nice mix of IPAs and a couple sour beers.
Dan talked about how he brews/ferments clean and sour beers in the same brewing area, and this is something of interest to us since we plan to do the same at Autumn Arch. The critical part of the entire operation is keeping the “clean beer” in that clean state when transferring from the boil kettle to the fermenter. Assuming the fermenter is superbly clean (a low risk assumption), the beer ferments as expected. After fermentation, the beer is transferred to a brite tank or keg, and at that point, the liquid is chilled to <38°F, which makes it extremely difficult for any wild yeast to take hold and affect the flavor of the finished beer.
Our brew house and fermenters arrived in August and we plan to have everything hooked up later this month. This is happening while construction is occurring in the rest of the brewery, so no beer until everything gets finished. We’re looking forward to the first batch and we hope you are too.